These last few years have dealt a lot of blows to our state of mind, body, and health. On some level, it’s been hard to escape trauma. Even if you can’t point to a big capital-T thing that happened, we live in a perpetual sea of micro-moments that unsettle, upset and shake us in a way that leaves a mark. Whether we know it’s there or not, whether we realize or acknowledge it, it’s affecting us. You, me, pretty much everyone on some level.
Question is, what do we do about that? This is the very question I explore with my guest this week, Bessel van der Kolk, legendary trauma researcher, psychiatrist, and author of a book that has been locked into the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list for years now, The Body Keeps the Score. In 1984, Bessel established one of the first clinical/research centers in the US dedicated to study and treatment of traumatic stress in civilian populations, while also training researchers and clinicians specializing in the study and treatment of traumatic stress. He was a member of the first neuroimaging team to investigate how trauma changes the brain.
Bessel’s efforts led to the establishment of the Trauma Research Foundation, developing new treatment models that are widely taught and implemented nationwide, a research lab that studied the effects of neurofeedback and MDMA on behavior, mood, and executive functioning, and numerous trainings nationwide to a variety of mental health professional, educators, parent groups, policymakers, and law enforcement personnel.